The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a new patron: Paris Hilton. Hilton hotel heiress, media personality, DJ and businesswoman gave the museum a acquisition fund for the acquisition of digital works by women artists, the museum announced Thursday.
Along with this donation, the museum also acquired two new digital works for its permanent collection by Korean-Canadian artist Krista Kim and British artist Shantell Martin. Kim’s work is a gift to the museum while Martin’s was commissioned through Hilton’s acquisition fund.
The museum wouldn’t say how much Hilton’s gift was, but “it’s an acquisition effort that will have a significant impact on our collection and expand our knowledge and ideas around digital art,” Dhyandra Lawson, assistant curator in LACMA’s Department of Photography, told The Times. “And it will allow us to study a wide range of artistic practices within the broad framework of digital art.”
The funds will go to develop the museum’s digital art collections through artificial intelligence, augmented reality, animation, graphic design, multimedia installation, photography, NFT, performance, software, sound and video art – and all future areas emerging as technology develops.
“We can see artists moving from one platform to another,” Lawson says. “There has been a flurry of experimentation over the past two years and continued exploration. And digital art gives artists new ways to use what we would call traditional media, like drawing and painting.
Although Hilton has previously attended the LACMA fundraising gala, the acquisition initiative is her first major donation to an art museum. Hilton said in an email interview that she makes and collects digital art, “including my first NFT in 2020 to raise money for wildfire victims in Australia. I’ve always loved LACMA , and now with my husband [Carter Reum] as a member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, I am very excited to be part of LACMA’s journey into the future.
Dedicating the funds to acquiring works by female artists was essential, Hilton says.
“With my media company 11:11 and this current chapter of my career,” she says, “uplifting and empowering women is one of my goals, as well as my social advocacy. LACMA has always been at the forefront of supporting female artists and digital artists, so partnering with LACMA to launch this initiative made perfect sense, and I was so excited to be a part of it.
The two new digital acquisitions are video works delivered as NFTs. Kim’s ‘Continuum: Los Angeles’ (2022) is inspired by the ever-changing sky above Los Angeles, with a color gradient that changes in 40 minutes. The electronic music duo Ligovskoy created the original sound elements of the work.
Martin’s “The Question” (2022) “uses digital technologies to engage the drawing,” the museum said in its announcement. Both works “explore the effects of digital technology on human perception and interaction”. They will be featured in an upcoming exhibition exploring digital innovation by female artists represented in the LACMA collection. The exhibition is a co-presentation with Arizona State University, where it will be presented this fall.
LACMA has a long history with technology driven art. Its Art and Technology program, which provided grants to artists, was founded in 1967 by the first full-time curator of modern art, Maurice Tuchman. This initiative ended in 1971 but LACMA resurrected it in 2013, with the new Art + Technology Lab. “And since then, we’ve been supporting artists every year,” Lawson says.
The museum’s digital art collection is now large, she says. “Since the advent of the Internet in the late 90s, LACMA has been collecting digital art. And some of the best examples are women.
This includes “major works” by Mariko Mori and Diana Thater, as well as recent works, acquired between 2000 and 2010, by Petra Cortright and Cao Fei.
The new acquisitions initiative aims to build on this momentum for female artists while addressing a broader art historical bias that has favored innovation by male artists and in the world of technology.
“I think our perceptions and associations of technology tend to be gendered,” Lawson says. “But women artists innovated as early as men. It’s just that they haven’t had the same kind of attention and notoriety. This is why this initiative is so important.
LACMA director Michael Govan said in the announcement that the museum has “always been interested in experimentation and risk-taking in art.”
The initiative, he added, “will help the museum – and Los Angeles – continue to evolve into an important center for digital art.”